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thought he had the night before suddenly added up and told him that this was probably it. He tiptoed quickly, barefooting it into the bedroom where he snatched up his piece and two extra clips and slowly came back out, positioning himself flat against the wall on the right side of the door, out of the way of any possible line of fire.

There was a second volley of knocks which was more aggressive and louder. A quick chill ran up Emmett's naked back, and he flushed, with beads of sweat breaking out all over him, making his dungarees cling uncomfortably tight at his crotch and the balls of his feet moisten the wooden floor. No one had ever before knocked on the door of the pad during the morning, at least not since Emmett had been there. There was no buzzer downstairs, so maybe it was just a Con Edison man wanting to read the meters. "No, if it was somebody like that, he'd of announced himself. They always announce who they are. Everyone knows that. An' I don't give a fuck what he says he is if he does say so either. Even if he's Western Union, I don't want any! And I'm gonna tell him I don't want none, too, to let him know I'm here, because tha~ way, if he's the one who's supposed to do me, he won't know I've got a piece, 'n he'll brazen it, maybe even come bargin' in, 'n I'll blow his fuckin' head off. That way it'll all be over 'n done with right away instead of getting dragged out 'n makin' me crazy."

The knocking started again, but this time it was more like someone pounding on the door with their fist. Then came the giveaway, and at first Emmett didn't believe it, but it sounded again loud and clear. A girl's voice calling out his name, "Emmett! Emmett!" shortly followed by, "It's me, Natural Suzanne!" All the tauttension seemed to slip out of his body. He sighed and took a deep breath, letting his arms relax to his side and his gun dangle limp in his hand. For a moment he was disappointed that it hadn't been what he thought, because then it would at least have been over. But only for a moment. It was actually better it turned out this way. He remained cautious, however, asking Natural Suzanne casual questions through the still-locked door about things only she knew about, while making believe he just got up from bed and was still drowsy stupid with sleep.

But it was her all right, and she was alone, with a suitcase, jumping excitedly across the threshold after he opened the door, and going into an immediate impassioned description of her trip from San Francisco to see her mother and sisters in Michigan before com [end page 350]


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